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  • Writer's pictureAdia Lancaster

Fast Fashion: What is it Really Costing Us?

Updated: Aug 25, 2020

FAST FASHION: an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers

src: Merriam-Webster

Many of us may fall prey to the seductive lure of dressing “on trend” where spending a fortune on the hot pick of the week seems uneconomical and at most, extravagant.

Enter in “fast fashion” – where fleeting trends stay current, price tags affordable, and our closets poppin’.

Fewer dollar signs at checkout may make us happy, but the real costs of fast fashion are often concealed – impacting us in 5 obvious (and not so obvious) ways.



All of us pretty much agree that our time is valuable.

It’s a precious commodity because we can never get it back. So how we choose to spend our time should also carry the same weight and be even more carefully curated and refined than the aspect of time itself.

Thus, do you believe choosing to spend time deciding what to wear, shopping for the “perfect” item (physically and online), and going out of your way to get those items are a good use of your time?

Some may argue that it’s pertinent to look your best and feel good in what you wear and it is important to some degree.

However, do you agree that all of those minutes, days, and weeks spent on mulling over your next purchase is the best use of your time?

What did you receive in exchange for the time spent? A short-lived, fading feeling of elation? Celebration? 100% pure satisfaction?

Maybe that time could’ve been better well spent on fighting against social injustices.

Spending more time with the people you love.

Investing in what makes you lose track of time…ways that make time feel irrelevant and most importantly, eternal, is what's most precious.




Invest in quality clothing and opt-in for a capsule wardrobe instead.  Or simplify even further and go for a uniform look, like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs.

Either way you go, it’ll shave down on minutes you can add to your day to do other stuff, like journaling, meditating, reading, or exercising.  You get the picture!



Sure, at the get-go it looks like we’re getting the best deal, saving money.  

But in the long run, fast fashion actually cheapens what we spent.

The quality of these items is usually not made to last, rendering the item useless after a few washings or wearings. We also tire of them quickly as it slips out of style, cuing us to start shopping for the next “it” thing.

Spending a little on a lot sure adds up in the end. 

And, to tell you the truth, we’re not getting the best end of the deal. 

It’s the brands or stores we choose to buy from that are getting rich off of our wanting and spending.

Plus, the more we choose to spend our money at these stores, the more demand for fast fashion increases and the more we are telling them to keep their doors open and stocked with subpar clothing.

For many shoppers, Primark has an irresistible offer: trendy clothes at astonishingly low prices. The result is a new and even faster kind of fast fashion, which encourages consumers to buy heaps of items, discard them after a few wears and then come back for another batch of new outfits.

- The Economist




As mentioned in pro tip #1, invest in high-quality clothing

Or better yet, take it to the next level and invest in sustainable, fair-trade, eco-friendly digs. 

Sure, they’re going to cost significantly more, but if it will last you longer and it’s good for you and the planet, it’s a no-brainer, win-win-win. 

You will definitely be saving money in the long run!

Think about it: Cost of Clothing/Duration of Use = Money $aved!

And don’t rule out buying second-hand or vintage quality clothing either!

You can find steals of a deal at your local thrift store.

Extra bonus: you’re also supporting a more sustainable and eco-friendly option by giving back to those in need and not contributing to unnecessary waste!  Another win-win-win!



Let’s face it. We all have to make hundreds of decisions on a daily basis starting from the time we wake up.

Should I sleep a little longer? Or if I get up now, I'll have time to get my gym workout in.

What kind of smoothie do I feel like having today? 

What should I wear today?

If we reserve space for the most important decisions we have to make knowing when our mind is most focused, that’s a smart move! 

The more decisions we need to make, no matter how minuscule or magnified they are in scale, the less mental acuity we have left for decisions as the day progresses. And that leaves room for mistakes, where poor decisions are made or not made at all depending on how much energy we have left.

The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain, and eventually it looks for shortcuts.

- John Tierney, New York Times




Don't hesitate to automate.

The whole point of automating some of what you do is to spend the very least amount of time on those inconsequential decisions, like getting dressed. 

Whether that takes the form of setting a routine, simplifying what you eat through meal planning, and/or implementing a capsule wardrobe, you are setting yourself up and your brain for a win – having access to more brain power and mental space so you can effectively make those BIG decisions.



And Implement pro tips #1 & 2. 

Then watch yourself breeze through the day pumped and ready to jump into it with confidence, clarity, and charisma!



Happiness comes and goes.

But we can always invite happiness back by thinking of a time when we were happy or imagining a scenario that would make us happy.

Happiness can also come from objects, like clothes, that remind us of a joyful moment – like the shirt you wore to your favorite band’s concert or your wedding dress.

Rarely does happiness stem from the mounds of clothes we covet or hoard themselves, unless our self-worth seems tied to how much and what it is we own.

Then, that supposed happiness could seem like true joy, when really all it is is a cover-up for something else, something much deeper – filling a bottomless void in our life that will never be fulfilled or be enough.

Objects do not personify happiness. Happiness ultimately comes from deep within us.




Are you starting to see a trend here? 

The tips all build on one another…

Simplify. Refine. Automate. Donate.

Reduce your clothes to a minimum.

Donate them to local thrift stores or organizations, like Salvation Army. Or better yet, donate it to a local organization that helps human trafficking victims.

Reduce the number of clothes that end up in our landfills.

Reduce your decisions on what to wear daily.

Increase your money saved. Increase your brainpower.

Increase your happiness.



Can we really hold our heads high when wearing that inexpensive outfit from Zara, which was made at the expense of someone else’s livelihood?

Can we really be at peace with the sheer amount of what we own when we think of and know that others in our communities are barely surviving?

Can we really be honest with ourselves and look ourselves in the mirror with honor and respect?

This is dignity.

Do we afford it to ourselves?

Do we afford it to others? 


Why not?

We all deserve dignity and dignity should be honored.

How will your life, your lifestyle, your decisions, reflect dignity?




Where do you stand in the face of dignity? 

Do you allow only dignity for yourself and not others?

Do you dismiss dignity altogether?

Where do you stand in the face of dignity?

When it comes to the clothes we wear, it can certainly make us feel dignified. But is that feeling true?

Do you know where your clothes were made? Who made them? Were they paid a fair wage? Do they work in a safe environment?

Can you wear your clothes with dignity knowing for certain that your clothes were made by those who were also afforded their dignity?

If the answer is no, then turn it into a yes! 

Learn more about labor injustices and decide where you stand.



No matter which way you spin it, you and only you are responsible for how you choose to spend your time, your money, the decisions you make, what makes you happy, and how you honor yourself and others.

There’s no doubt about it – fast fashion is disposable fashion – an avalanche of a problem – snowballing cheap clothes that settle and clog up our closets, clog up our senses and devastatingly, clog up our landfills.

It is cheap in every way. 

Cheap via the production process, the price tag, the quality…AND the harsh reality is, it’s a cheapening of the value of our humanity and our planet at the core.

Did you know...

How will you reconcile and rectify the effect and expense of fast fashion?

New Hope Foundation International
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